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SC on black money: you have names, did you act?

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday slammed the Central Government on the black money issue.

Looking at the issue from taxation point of view is one thing but there are other grave issues also and that’s the most dangerous part of the story, the apex court said.

“You are aware of some names, have you set law in motion against them? And why are you repeatedly talking about tax issues only?,” asked the court.

“Is there no basis to figure out black money? What is the source of black money, which has been stashed away in foreign banks? Is it arms deal, drug peddling or smuggling?” asked SC.

The apex court asked explanation from the Government saying, “These are serious issues, what have you done about those names when you got to know about them?”

The Center faced the SC wrath just two days after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee went all out in the black money issue.

Last week, the Apex Court had asked the Government why it could not disclose the names of people who had black money stashed away in foreign banks.

The court had also asked the Government whether it had access to only 26 names of people having black money in foreign banks as shared by German authorities.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said all efforts were on to ascertain details of people having black money abroad.

Mukherjee said that the Central Government has nothing to hide on black money issue and the Prime Minister has asked him to share the information with public.

But he claimed that so far the Government has no reliable estimate of black money, which could be between $500 billion to $1400 billion.

A current study by the Global Financial Integrity has estimated present value of illicit money outflow to be around $462 billion.

Emphasising that there is no reliable estimates of black money generated by Indians within and outside the country, the Finance Minister said, “It’s necessary to find out sources of black money so that its generation can be prevented”.

“Swiss bank has been persistently refusing to divulge information on black money,” he said.

“I have signed an agreement with Swiss authorities, we will be able to get information from Swiss banks by amending the double taxation norms,” he added.

India has amended DTAA with 23 countries which will enable us to seek banking information, informed Mukherjee.

“India is updating laws on transfer pricing mechanism to bring it at par with international standards as part of attempts to bring back the black money stashed abroad,” said Mukherjee.

India has started receiving information of Indians, who have generated income outside the country under double taxation avoidance agreements, he informed.

He also informed that the Government has constituted a multi-disciplinary committee to get studies conducted, to estimate the quantum of illicit funds generated by Indian citizens. The Government has formulated a five pronged strategy which consists of joining the global crusade against black money, creating an appropriate legislative framework, setting up institution for dealing with illicit funds and developing systems for implementation.

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